As we launch into a new year many people are starting to make new year’s resolutions, and calendaring is a tool so many people use. This blog by Poughquag resident Lucille Grippo is a beautiful testimonial and confrontation regarding how we can over/underestimate the importance of the calendar. This remarkable woman, a mother of three, has literally come back from death’s door to tell us to make the most of our borrowed time. (Get your tissues ready, and prepare to stretch your smile muscles.)
Why a Calendar Is So Important to Me
January marks the start of a new year, and at every corner of the mall there are vendors hawking calendars, large, and small, monthly, daily as well as planners and themed. You name it, they sell it.
For some it marks events, meetings, and happy occasions. For others, it’s deadlines, flights to catch and work obligations. For me, a “calendar” means so much more. It symbolizes days to celebrate life. Borrowed time, so to speak. I used to check off the days on my calendar like a soldier checking his posts. That changed on June 15, 2016. That’s when my calendar stopped just as my heart did when it went into sudden cardiac arrest. For two months, dates on the calendar, time on the clock, and days of the week meant nothing to me. My cortical blindness prevented me from seeing the numbers and the days. My aphasia blocked the connections of what those strange symbols were and what they meant.
“What is today’s date?” the cheery doctor would ask on her daily rounds. Mostly I guessed and was way off.
“Do you know what month it is, Lucille?”
“May!” I would exclaim, so confident I was correct. For the last memory I had was of my daughter’s first communion in May. The doctor gently reminded me that it was July.
As the days and weeks ticked by, slowly it started to come back. The large whiteboard in front of my bed at rehab listed day, date, month, and year. I promised myself I would memorize the information when the doctor came. Alas, it was lost in my brain again.
Soon after, though, some things started connecting and making sense again. I began recognizing the symbols as numbers, and although I couldn’t retain the information for more than a few minutes, I still perceived it as progress. Some days were more frustrating than others, but with patience and determination it all came back.
I came home from rehab, and my trusty calendar felt like an old friend, warm and comforting. When I began writing and reading again, one of the first things I did with encouragement was to jot down my therapy and doctor appointments. I recognized how my calendar was packed with things that seemed so important at the time before my heart event, that had no meaning now in contrast to a near death experience. Instead of being a slave to my calendar, I now guard it and only the most important and precious things make it on there. Now I use it as a tool and one that will no longer rule my life. In fact, I may not be carrying it with me into 2018.
Note: Lucille Grippo is a marketing and public relations specialist. After surviving sudden cardiac arrest in June 2016, she found a new perspective on life. She resides in the Hudson Valley with her husband and three children and feels blessed everyday.
Jacqueline Muller is Clinical Director and Owner of Dynamic Intervention Wellness Solutions. She is a NY State Licensed Clinical Social Worker.